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Recollections from the Ladies of the Class of 1961

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of 1961: What you are about to read are responses to a pursuit in the making over the past few years. Aided by several of our ‘mates and Ladies, we now begin to read “Recollections of Life with a Graduate of the Class of 1961.” You’ll read stories, maybe with a special twist and some personal viewpoints as authored by Ladies of 1961. Earlier in June 2021, Lucy Paone working with Ed Brown invited the Golden Girls [widows of our deceased ‘mates] to submit their own Recollections: humorous, insightful, sad, uplifting, challenging, exciting and the list could go on...

We guys have been doing this sort of writing routinely for over sixty years: That is telling our own stories. As your Scribe, I believe, the Ladies’ Recollections will become a window that opens up onto our Class history which in turn becomes part of West Point’s recorded history via the AOG. Perhaps as well, the Ladies are passing along and reminding us of lessons about the Army’s culture that we all experienced over these many years.

An FYI: Following distribution of Lucy's invitation there has been added interest as well among the Ladies of surviving Classmates. This edition includes one from each.

Rita Hale’s “Recollections” of Mike’s First Parachute Jump
8/5/2021

It was the day of Mike’s first parachute jump at Ft. Benning in October 1961. Mike was especially “Out of Sorts” that day, what I thought was just nerves over jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. So, I made him a big breakfast: eggs, bacon, grits, toast and jelly. He didn’t eat a bite. Having been in the Army only three months, I figured this was just the first of many strange experiences that I was to encounter in the years ahead.

Our Camellia Apartment car pool arrived shortly and Mike got into the car still looking a little bit queasy. As Mike then tells the story, he arrived at the hanger, put on his parachute and sat for the usual hour waiting to load the plane - all the time tightening his straps and thinking this was just nerves. Eventually, he loaded the plane, took off and made the jump. By this time, I had arrived at the drop zone to welcome him on the ground, along with other ’61 wives.

Of course, we couldn’t recognize our husbands falling through the sky, but I was able to see that Mike was not leaving the drop zone with the other jumpers. FIRST ALERT! As it turned out, Mike was still feeling very sick when he hit the ground. A sergeant then ran up to him to check him out. And, of course, they then loaded him into a jeep and off they went to some unknown location. My reaction: “Hello, what about me? I am his wife. Where is he going?”

When Mike’s carpool arrived back at Camellia Apartments one of the guys said, “They had taken him to the hospital.” Naturally, I hopped into our car and went to Martin Army Hospital. I was totally freaked out, wandering the halls of the hospital, trying to find my husband. Finally, this nice man came up to me and offered to help. I later learned he was the hospital commander. I finally found Mike and learned he was having an emergency appendectomy and was scheduled for surgery in a few hours.

The surgery was successful but so much for that jump class. Mike was then assigned to the training battalion for a two- month profile, waiting to enter the next class to complete his jumps. Colonel Joseph was the training battalion commander. For the next two months Mike and I made Christmas decorations for the Battalion headquarters. We met with the Colonel and his wife for drinks every afternoon at his quarters, cutting out and painting plywood Christmas elves to place in front of the headquarters.

This turned out to be a fun time and a learning experience. I had come to appreciate the prerogative of informality that we had graciously been given by the Joseph’s and also recognized there were times, when formality dictated, I remain quiet. (very difficult for my talkative nature)<

Pat Shroyer's “Recollections” of Their Early Encounters [Bruce: 8 February 1939 - 18 April 2019]
8/5/2021

I met Bruce Shroyer '61 H-2 in a rather unique set of circumstances. I was modeling for Mademoiselle Magazine, College Edition ,in the fall of 1958. Bruce saw my picture and wrote to me at my College. I am sure Mademoiselle was not on his Yearling year required reading list along with Paul Frey's Chemistry Treatise . None the less, after checking him out I did write back.

As a counterpoint to this story following on the modeling theme, Bruce had his own encounter with the NYC magazine world. On July 4th 1961, having just returned from our honeymoon in Puerto Rico, Bruce and I were strolling along the boardwalk at Jones Beach on Long Island.

We were stopped by a gentleman who handed Bruce his business card and asked if he ever considered modeling ? “Wasn't that what West Point prepared you all for, any contingency?” At first we thought it was a joke but soon realized he was serious. Bruce spent the next 3 1/2 weeks of his summer leave going from one studio to another, ultimately appearing in several magazine ads and a clothing catalog. Bruce finished the last" shoot" with just enough time to get a hair cut (the photographer had wanted his hair long for the shots) and to drive with me to Fort Benning to begin Airborne School. His pay for this short lived career surpassed his 2nd Lieutenant 's salary.

Bruce and I began our courtship and marriage with one or the other of us modeling in magazines. “Ironic”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last update:
8/07/2021